VIM Airlines challenges court ruling on $44 million debt
MOSCOW, October 3 (RAPSI) – Vim Airlines has filed an appeal against a ruling of the Commercial Court of Tatarstan granting a claim filed by RNGO company, which sought to include a 3 billion-ruble ($44 million) debt of the troubled air carrier into the creditors’ demands list.
The appeal will be reviewed by the Eleventh Commercial Court of Appeals on November 6.
On September 26, the Commercial Court of Tatarstan declared VIM Airlines bankrupt. The bankruptcy claim has been filed against the air carrier by the same company, RNGO. In August, the court granted an application filed by the company, including a 3 billion-ruble ($44 million) debt into the creditors’ demands list.
In April, the Eleventh Commercial Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal filed by VIM Airlines against initiation of a bankruptcy monitoring procedure against the company. The airline appealed the February 19 ruling of the Commercial Court of Tatarstan. The court found the motion filed by RNGO to be justified and initiated the monitoring procedure against the airline.
In December 2017, the airline’s CEO Vyacheslav Kononenko said that the company was facing a serious problem in that it can’t pay salaries because of debts to the Federal Tax Service (FTS) reaching 500 million rubles ($8.8 million). According to Kononenko, all funds transferred to the airline’s accounts are automatically blocked and transferred to tax authorities.
On October 17, 2017, a criminal case was launched over premeditated bankruptcy of VIM Airlines. In September of the same year the court returned a bankruptcy claim against the airline back to the Deposit Insurance Agency (DIA). According to the court, due to the social tensions surrounding the activities of the airline, the applicant decided to recall the motion.
Investigators believe that certain top managers and owners of the air carrier intentionally made losing bargains in 2016 and 2017 including those aimed at siphoning of assets abroad. The deals led to enormous financial outlay and undoubtedly resulted in the company’s failure to pay debts to creditors in full.
According to investigators, employees of VIM Airlines continued to sell tickets to clients despite being aware that the airline was not able to transfer passengers because there were not enough funds to buy fuel. Investigators believe that the employees embezzled more than one million rubles ($17,000).
VIM Airlines CEO and chief accountant Alexander Kochnev and Yekaterina Panteleyeva have been arrested as part of the case. Co-owners of VIM Airlines Rashid Mursekayev and Svetlana Mursekayeva fled Russia and are currently residing abroad, according to investigators. Allegedly Mursekayev and Kalashnikova fled Russia to hide from investigative authorities. In December, the Basmanny District Court of Moscow issued an arrest warrant for Mursekayev in absentia.
Investigators also believe that between 2015 and 2017 the defendants abused their office positions to buy overpriced aviation fuel from companies controlled by Mursekayev. Allegedly, VIM Avia’s damages reach 782 million rubles (nearly $12 million).